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Advisory Committee to Submit Alternate Residence Proposal

By Rima Arnaout

As the date approaches for Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 to review the Residence System Steering Committee’s proposal for a new residence system at MIT, a number of students plan to submit rival proposals to the RSSC plan in coming weeks.

In addition to proposals from two individual students, Jeremy H. Brown G and Paul-Gabriel Wiener ’01, the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor has teamed up with student government leaders to design a Unified Proposal for an MIT Residential System.

First announced publicly at the State of the Undergraduate Association meeting by UA President Matthew L. McGann ’00, the Unified Proposal combines the efforts of the SAC, UA, Graduate Student Council, Interfraternity Council, Dormitory Council, Living Group Council, and I Love This Fucking Place, a grassroots housing reform movement.

The Unified Proposal “is a stand-alone report,” said John S. Hollywood G, chair of the SAC, instead of a suggestion or modification of the RSSC proposal.

“The audience for the proposal is not the RSSC; it’s Chancellor Bacow,” McGann said.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Bacow will consider this proposal as seriously as that of the RSSC. “When [Bacow] heard we were planning a report, he said that it sounded like a good idea and that he was very interested in what the SAC thought of the residential system,” Hollywood said.

“We are certainly trying to use the RSSC report since a lot of work went into it... we felt that the the best way to respond to what Chancellor Bacow had asked for was to write a separate report,” Hollywood said. Bacow was unreachable for comment.

The SAC decided to create an alternative proposal on Sept. 14. “The Student Advisory Committee is a natural home for this kind of project because it’s the advisory group to the chancellor,” said Christopher R. Rezek ’99, a member of the SAC.

“The student governments were going to come together again to produce something, and since the SAC was charged” to give their input, the student governments and the SAC came together, McGann said.

The Unified Proposal committee is currently drafting the content of the proposal will complete its final report by October 6.

The RSSC will officially release its report on October 1 and present it to Bacow on October 5. The SAC will present the student proposal to Bacow two days later.

Proposal to fill gaps in RSSC plan

“While the RSSC had a number of admirable goals in its proposal, it didn’t provide the infrastructure nor the capital resources to attain those goals,” Rezek said. “Some of us saw flaws in the RSSC’s documentation.”

One issue that the Unified Proposal members say was ignored in the RSSC proposal is capital funding for residence system programs. “You can’t ignore the capital needs by not mentioning them,” said Jake H. Parrott ’00, also a member of the SAC.

“Instead of focusing on the logistics of residence selection,” the SAC proposal will take “a more robust look at the needs of the system,” McGann said.

MIT has strong residence programs, Rezek added, but it can’t continue to run them on a shoestring.”

While the group “is not claiming that we have the perfect process” according to Parrott, the Unified Proposal committee believes its method will yield a more thorough proposal than that of the RSSC.

Unlike the RSSC, Rezek said, the Unified Proposal group is divided in subgroups that each tackle a different aspect of the proposal.

The students working on the proposal have had access to the RSSC’s library materials. “We’ve also decided to seek out more [information],” Rezek said.

In addition, all meeting notes for the Unified Proposal process are open and online, McGann said.

The Unified Proposal committee will cooperate with some of the individual student proposals as it continues to develop the content of its report. “Many of the values of [Wiener’s] proposal will eventually be incorporated into ours,” McGann said.

“Our report will be extremely well-documented. It will not represent two weeks’ work but rather forty to fifty years” of residence system and capital project analysis, Parrott said.

Despite its efforts to present Bacow with another residence design proposal, the group maintains that their proposal isn’t an attack on the RSSC report. “I don’t think our proposal means that the RSSC’s process” wasn’t valid, Rezek said.